Last year's Dutch TT winner Valentino Rossi says he is high on confidence as the Movistar Yamaha rider bids for another premier class victory at Assen this weekend.
Rossi, who won last time out at Catalunya, has been in terrific form at the European rounds of the MotoGP World Championship in particular this season but was left to rue an engine failure at his home race at Mugello in May as he held second place behind team-mate Jorge Lorenzo.
Nonetheless, the 37-year-old has closed the gap at the top to Marc Marquez to 22 points after seven races and Rossi will be eager to reduce the deficit even further at one of his strongest circuits on Sunday.
“I'm happy because from when we come back to Europe, I was always strong, form Jerez to Barcelona. Unfortunately, in Mugello we lost some important points, but anyway we were fast,” he said.
“We have to try to continue like this and Assen is one of the best tracks during the season and one of my favourites. It is also very good for a lot of riders because it is a great track and I think last year was one of the best weekends for me. I was able to win after a battle with Marc and also during the weekend I was strong, starting from the pole position.
“But every year is different and we arrive with a different tyre to understand and we have to be strong from the beginning and understand our potential, Rossi added.
“Usually the Michelin tyres here at Assen were strong, were fast in the back, so we hope that our bike is in a good shape to make the tyre work well.”
Rossi believes the smallest gains will prove pivotal during practice and qualifying this weekend and expects the weather to have a significant bearing on the outcome.
“Here in Assent the weather is always very important because it can change four times in one day. Also, in the practice you have always to be ready for all the conditions,” he said.
“This year is a little bit strange because it is the first time that we race on a Sunday, so we hope to have good weather but it is important in practice to try all the conditions.
“A lot of riders are very strong but in the last races we were able to give a little bit more, so the battle is very tight and the level is high. All the work during the weekend can make the difference for Sunday.”
Giving his views on the alterations to Assen's legendary final chicane, Rossi said the changes are an improvement from a safety perspective.
“They have changed it from last year with more tarmac so for the safety I think it is better. In the limit of the track there is a little bit of kerb on the inside and I think you have to try to stay into this limit,” he said.
“That chicane is always a great place to pass and apart from myself and Marc, in the past in the 500 there was a great battle between [Kevin] Schwantz and [Wayne] Rainey and [Loris] Capirossi one time beat me from the outside or the inside, I can't remember in the last lap in the 250. For sure, if it is another tight last lap, it will be interesting and we will try to arrive in front.”